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Difference Between Crystal Reports and Web Intelligence

Crystal Reports vs Web Intelligence

Crystal Reports and Web Intelligence are two powerful reporting software applications developed in different portfolios of the same parent company, SAP. While Crystal Reports is one of the products in SAP’s Crystal Solutions products portfolio, Web Intelligence was developed and released by SAP’s Business Objects Web Intelligence products. Whilst every company or organization has specific needs for its enterprise-wide information, there’s a common need for a tool that can offer reliable access to that information, organize and publish it and also provide analysis capabilities.

Whether to use Crystal Reports or Web Intelligence depends on several determining factors. The actual questions one needs to ask are: the type of users, whether they are entry-level or power users, the number of users who will be developing or updating particular reports and when these will be done, the users who will be running or viewing existing reports and the like.

The features of Crystal Reports support highly structured reports which are pixel-perfect and usually require printing or are to be exported as PDF documents. There are tools that pull data from multiple sources and return results against parameters that are already defined. Crystal Reports, through SDKs, allows for the embedding of these reports into third-party applications. Although it has very powerful tools for design, analysis, ad hoc query and report publishing, the main disadvantage of Crystal Reports is that designers of reports require an extensive knowledge of the workings of the application as well as a good understanding of the different database systems.

On the other hand, Web Intelligence offers optimal results for ‘unstructured’ reports. The way it works is that a developer has to create a ‘universe’ for users to be able to access the data in question. The ‘universe’ is simply a meta-data layer that ‘encapsulates’ the complexities of the database from the end users. Web Intelligence allows users to develop their own reports on the fly, limited only by the available data in the ‘universe’. This is possible through its drag-and-drop web interface. A notable downside to this application is that the methods for outputting print and PDF reports are not graphically as powerful as those of Crystal Reports. Also, users may, often get mixed up in the universe, despite the degree of simplification.

So, basically, reports that require a great deal of compliance are better published with Crystal Reports while those that are to be generated with ‘on-demand’ content are best done with Web Intelligence.

1. Crystal Reports is in SAP’s Crystal Solutions product portfolio while Web Intelligence is part of SAP’s Business Objects Web Intelligence line.
2. Crystal Reports is best for highly structured reports, while Web Intelligence is most suitable for ‘unstructured’ reports.
3. For Crystal Reports, users get pre-defined templates, while Web Intelligence users use ad hoc reports accessing data from a ‘universe’.
4. Developers using Crystal Reports need a thorough knowledge of the application and database systems, which isn’t the case with Web Intelligence.

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